Afghanistan’s economic crisis deepens as airlift winds down

Kabul: Hundreds of Afghans protested outside a bank in Kabul on Saturday and others formed long lines at cash machines as a UN agency warned that a worsening drought could leave millions in need of humanitarian aid.
At the Kabul airport, thousands are still gathering in hope of fleeing the country, even after a suicide attack on Thursday killed 169 Afghans and 13 US service members and amid warnings of more attacks.
The massive US-led airlift is winding down, with many Western nations having completed their own evacuation efforts ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.
The economic crisis, which predates the Taliban takeover earlier this month, could give Western nations leverage as they urge Afghanistan’s new rulers to form a moderate, inclusive government and allow people to leave after the planned withdrawal of US forces on Aug 31.
Afghanistan is heavily dependent on international aid, which covered around 75% of the Western-backed government’s budget. The Taliban have said they want good relations with the international community and have promised a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last governed the country, but many Afghans are deeply skeptical.
The protesters at New Kabul Bank included many civil servants demanding their salaries, which they said had not been paid for the past three to six months. They said even though banks reopened three days ago no one has been able to withdraw cash.
ATM machines are still operating, but withdrawals are limited to around USD 200 every 24 hours, contributing to the formation of long lines.
A UN agency meanwhile warned that a worsening drought threatens the livelihoods of more than 7 million people. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said Afghans are also suffering from the coronavirus pandemic and displacement from the recent fighting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.